On the 29th February, Berwick Partner’s Elizabeth James was part of an expert panel for a live, online debate on the Guardian website. The two-hour long event was entitled “is local government too overloaded to effect real change?” and attracted participation from a range of Policy and Leadership experts from across the private and public sectors.
Discussion focused on whether current delivery demands combined with budget pressures rendered transformational change impossible for Authorities. Elizabeth’s view is that whilst the challenges faced by the sector have hitherto never been seen, commentators shouldn’t be too downbeat about its capacity to develop going forward;
“Local Government has some amazing people working within it. Professionals who face tremendous strategic, operational and cultural challenges on a daily basis.”
However she thinks that organisations need to be braver about taking risks, recognise the latent talent within their midst and to believe in its ability to find the answers to the difficulties it faces currently.
“I think that the future looks bright in terms of Local Government's appetite and capability for change. However, I don't think that this is uniform across the sector. I would urge authorities to remain ambitious, to open themselves to challenge and not to be afraid of doing difficult things differently. The solutions don't reside in doing fewer things, in the same way as before. However, there isn't a magic wand to be waved either. I am always hugely heartened by the talent that exists within Local Government. But I think that the sector doesn’t always realise how good it is, how good it could be and indeed how it weighs up against commercial organisations.”